I'm setting up a crit page exchange with a local author and put together this short guideline on pace/tension issues to consider. Sort of a road map of items that I've learned. If it's helpful, let me know.
So in this action sequence, I’ve hit a lot of pacing problems, which just as well could be called tension problems. It’s not unusual in first drafts, but important to keep in mind.
1. Pace/tension requires complete control of what action happens where.
2. Motivations direct your action sequence. Make sure actions match your character's motivation in the scene and that the actions fall in logical sequence.
3. Chose the best, most descriptive, active verbs you can find to use and then place them where they will count in the sentence. Cut weak ones.
4. Never (all rules are made to be broken) use reported or telling in your writing but it’s a cardinal sin in action sequences. If you must, make it a conscious writer’s decision and keep it short.
5. Shifting POVs in action makes the reader work to decide what lens they are looking through and drags the reader out of the action unconsciously---slowing down the pace/tension. If you must, make it an easy shift for your reader wiht limited number of those shifts.
6. Tighten, tighten, tighten. Keep it simple. If 36 syllables can be accomplished in 14—go for it!
7. Generally shift to shorter and shorter sentences and paragraphs as you build the tension and increase the pace. Seek out actual white space in the print in action sequences and avoid areas of dark print in action. It mentally drags the reader down. These are like non-verbal body language that the mind picks up and interprets beneath the surface of thought.
And 8. In my reading experience, only the best (my favorite author, #1NYTimes Jim Butcher) can take these amazing philosophical side steps into the mind and make it work during action scenes. He uses it to tease us away with a wicked sense of humor and murderous planned reader abuse and, addicted, we love it, even as we beg him to get back to the action. (I think this applies to love/sex scenes too. He’s postponing the climax and we…yeah, you get the idea. LOL) At one point in a book, he pulls back from the tight hard action to give me like six ways that people experience hospitals or pain or types of fear and it works! I love his segues like that, but for the rest of us—we’d better keep to the straightforward action…
- May - 2016: Upcoming, I'll be participating in Desert Sleuth's Donald Maass Workshop. I'm afraid it sold out months ago, but if you have questions, contact me.Apr - 2016: A 2nd Kami Short will release in the Malice Domestic anthology in Bethesda MD. I'll also be moderating a panel with authors Karen Pullen, Sue Cox, and Gretchen Archer. Don't miss the fun! I'll have special edition signed copies of the 1st Kami Short from the SinC - Desert Sleuth anthology to hand out for free.Apr - 2016: An adult short story, Big Horn Mountain Carnivores, was selected as the adult category winner in the Tempe Community Writing Contest loosely associated with Arizona State University! The e- & print release where I read a portion of the story was the greatest fun. Thank you everyone who came by! Free download here (scroll to bottom):Aug - 2015: Politics of Chaos was released at an event attended by the awesome NYTimes best-selling author Sara Paretsky! Also, a flash fiction entitled, "Lightning" was 3rd runner up in the national 2015 Writers Police Academy's contest.
July - 2015: NYC FBI headquarters. Many thrilling authors were there, the presentations were fantastic, and the experience was a solid 15 on a 10 point scale. Thank you to the International Thriller Writers for inviting me. Thank you to the men and women of the FBI.
MAY - 2015: The Poisoned Pen submitted Chaos Theory for the 2015 Edgar's young adult novel award. Please note that submission is NOT a nomination. Still, it is an exciting development.
MAR - 2015:Tucson Festival of Books booksigning! Great time by all.
FEB - 2015: CHAOS THEORY, released by The Poisoned Pencil, an imprint of The Poisoned Pen Press - one of the nation's largest publishers of hard-back mysteries.
MAR - 2013: Meg was honored to receive a year long mentorship from author Jan Blazanin through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - Iowa. Ms. Blazanin praised Meg's multiple characters' distinct and age appropriate voices.
Her writing blog is located at megevonne.blogspot.com contains reviews and writing craft tools.